150 Wigs, Shaving Cream, and More "Hocus Pocus 2" Hair Secrets
True: "Hocus Pocus 2" is about black magic and running amok in Salem and eating face cream to look younger. It's still got the Sanderson sisters and Billy Butcherson and, yes, a black-flame candle. Also true: the film is the long-awaited, 30-years-later succession to arguably the most beloved Halloween classic, which leaves big belted witch shoes to fill — a task the production, cast, and crew took seriously down to the last detail, including the hair.
While the aesthetic of each of the three Sanderson witches — Winifred, Sarah, and Mary (played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, respectively) — was intentionally kept the same courtesy of their personal hairstylists, the film's hair department head Karyn Alexander had plenty of room to play with the styles of their teenage selves, as well as newly added characters like Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) throughout the film.
Only this time, the sequel, which was directed by Anne Fletcher and is available to stream now on Disney+, introduces a handful of new scenarios that required a little sorcery behind the scenes, hair doubles, and plenty of wigs (150, to be exact). Here, Alexander is breaking down all the movie magic that went into the "Hocus Pocus 2" hairstyles.
Creating the Wigs For "Mini" Winifred, Sarah, and Mary
The original Sanderson sisters aren't the only ones to look out for in the sequel; there's also the teenager versions of them played by Taylor Henderson as Winnie, Juju Journey Brener as Sarah, and Nina Kitchen as Mary. Some of earlier scenes feature the mini witches that provide background as to why they turned out they way they did, and there was one prerequisite with the hair: it had to be consistent.
"We wanted them to be recognizable the minute you see them — we wanted you to see Winnie walking through the crowd and you know for sure that this little redhead with all this fire is Winnie," she says. "We kept true to all their [hairstyle] silhouettes yet tried to have them reflect the time period."
Alexander adds that while all the younger witches wore wigs, the same wigmaker who made Bette Midler's wigs gave the hair to the film's head wigmaker Gretchen Evans to make one for the little Winnie. "So her wig is almost exactly the same, just miniature."
The Surprising Secret to Realistic 1600s Hairstyles
Because the Salem flashbacks to the younger witches were set in the 1600s, Fletcher's direction with "Hocus Pocus 2" was to make the hair as accurate to the time period as possible. That required a little research and a lot of creativity behind the scenes: "They didn't have the modern tools we have today to do their hair and we wanted to stay true to the period," says Alexander. "In the 1600s, they didn't cut their hair scissors, so [ends] were blunt and harsher. The edges were not as refined because you were cutting them with a blade or dull knives."
For specific styles, the team also utilized real techniques employed back in the day, including Marcel Tongs to curl the hair instead of a modern curling iron as well as pieces of cloth to create realistic lived-in waves (with the latter, she adds, "People used to wrap their hair in rag rollers, or pieces of cloth, so you could sleep in them"). The team also incorporated paper weights to give certain looks a period feel, like with Tony Hale's character as the reverend.
"With the people in the town, they're dirty and are living rough; their hair is not clean, that's why they wear bonnets and caps," Alexander says, which means the team had to lean on modern tricks of the trade to create that "dirty" hair effect. "I used a lot of spray wax — that, and shaving cream. It's hard to make the hair look dull because every pomade or gel makes it shiny. Shaving cream is really good at dulling people's hair down; it makes the hair matte. You can't get the fancy foams. It's just the plain old white barbershop shaving cream. I go with the old-school Gillette ($3) — whatever I can get multiples of."
The Hidden Hair Nods to the Witches Throughout
In the new film, the audience is introduced to three new main modern-day characters — Becca, Lizzy, and Cassie — all of whom are meant to represent the "new coven." This detail was woven throughout the film in subtle easter eggs: "When you look at them and their hair, there are colors and [details] in their costumes that emulate the witches," says Alexander.
That's why Becca wears her hair curly and in an updo, like Winnie Sanderson, while Izzy has a high ponytail at the top of her head to emulate the exaggerated cone hairstyle worn by Mary Sanderson and Cassie wears her hair down for most of the film like Sarah Sanderson. "When you see the silhouettes, you can see there is a little bit of them in the witches and the witches in them," she says.
"Hocus Pocus" Hair Throwbacks You Might've Missed
Like the original, some of the best hair and makeup moments come from the epic Halloween festival. It's also where the film's hairstylists got to have the most fun: "I had 12 hairdressers working on set for that scene and it was like, 'Here's a box of wigs — do whatever you want,'" she says. "We probably had 150 wigs each day we did that festival. That was our moment to be creative."
Blink and you might miss all of the subtle throwbacks to original Halloween costumes from the first film — there's a nod to Madonna's cone bra and sleek ponytail, the angel and the devil suits, and multiple Sanderson sister outfits. "We have a Marie Antoinette that's walking around carrying her wig because it's so heavy that she wouldn't wear it the full time. It was like Halloween every day filming those scenes."
The Hair Products They Went Through the Most on Set
One of Alexander's favorite products was one the entire team turned to throughout filming. "We used the Unite Hair 7 Seconds Detangler Leave-In Conditioner ($28) on our wigs because you don't wash then as much as you would wash hair," she says. We did all the double wigs for the witches for body doubles, so we had to keep them maintained and looking healthy. You'd spray that at night and scrunch it up so that you could go back through and curl it in the morning."
For Peak's hair specifically, she used Amika Power Hour Curl Refreshing Spray ($25) generously in between scenes to give her curls a boost. "We used a lot of Amika products on set; the products are so lightweight and are just really good."
Behind the Making of the Mother Witch's Wig
Another new character in the film is Mother Witch (Hannah Waddingham), who looks unlike any other witch of Disney's past. "The normal witch is always the scary with either really white hair or dark black hair — we wanted her to be ethereal," says Alexandra. "You thought she was beautiful but yet you were a little afraid of her. You didn't know which way to go. Do you go to this woman or do you stay away from this woman? Is she going to eat me or is she going to love me? With her wig, Gretchen and I landed on this luminescent, silvery-purple lavender with a dark smudgy root."
She adds, "It was all hand-custom dyed and then hand-tied. We didn't want it to look real, so the shade almost looks like an oil-slick color. It is the most beautiful wig ever."